By OSWALD T. BROWN
There was a very interesting letter in this morning’s Tribune written by Kelly Burrows that immediately arrested my attention. It was short and to the point.
Here’s what it said: “I want to add my concern to the fact that you have a strong FNM family in their hour or sadness with the death of a wife and mother and there was no FNM representation at the funeral on Saturday morning. Obviously it was an occasion for the Member of Parliament to be present or one of the Senators. The Opposition was ably represented by two senior MPs out of Nassau. Is this a way to treat your loyal supporters? My understanding is that they were all on the island. To me, I was gravely disappointed. For what it is worth.”
It was not the criticism leveled at FNM representatives that attracted my attention, but rather who was the writer of that letter. Kelly Burrows is a die-hard FNM supporter, who has been very active in local politics for many, many years. The fact that he chose to publicly criticize Grand Bahama FNM representatives in the House of Assembly speaks volumes for the disgust of Grand Bahama voters in general with FNM Grand Bahama representatives, who have remained silent while Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham, for personal reasons, chose to totally neglect Grand Bahama for the past four-plus years.
Keep in mind that three of these representatives—Zhivargo Laing, Marco City; Neko Grant, Lucaya; and Kenneth Russell, High Rock—are members of Ingraham’s cabinet. The other two—Kwazi Thompson, Pineridge, and Verna Grant, Eight Mile Rock—also did not muster the courage to speak out on behalf of their constituents as Ingraham waged a personal war against Sir Jack Hayward, one of the principal owners of the Grand Bahama Port Authority, for reasons that still make no sense, other than to Ingraham; discontinued broadcasts of ZNS-13 daily half-hour news from Freeport, some say for the expressed purpose of diminishing the importance of Freeport mainly to spite Sir Jack; and made a number of other spiteful decisions that have been responsible for unemployment in Grand Bahama soaring to in excess of 20 percent and many families losing their homes because they were unable to keep up with their mortgages.
The fact that these MPs refused to attend the funeral of Antoinette Seymour surely was a display of absolute disrespect to her husband Felix Seymour and his family. Felix Seymour is known to be a dyed-in-the-wool FNM supporter and is indeed one of that party’s top generals in Grand Bahama. Why at least one of the MPs or, as Kelly Burrows suggested, “one of the Senators” did not show their respect to the Seymour family in beyond comprehension.
But this sort of behavior is not new for Grand Bahama FNM members of the House when “common sense” and indeed “common courtesy” dictated that they should have demonstrated to their constituents that they are caring and concerned politicians.
Take, for example, when Archdeacon Cornell Moss, rector of the Anglican Church of Ascension in Freeport, was named Bishop of Guyana in August of 2009. When he was consecrated Bishop of Guyana in December of that year, more than 120 Grand Bahamians went to Guyana for the event; however, not one of the FNM Grand Bahama representative had the good sense to recommend to Ingraham that the consecration of Bahamian as Bishop of Guyana was certainly an event at which an official representative of the Government of The Bahamas should have been present.
What made this oversight even more egregiously disgraceful is that at least four of these representatives have many constituents who are members of the Church of Ascension; yet they will be knocking on their doors seeking their support in the next election. At least Laing and Thompson will, given reports that both Russell and Grant have been forced by Ingraham not to seek reelection.
Meanwhile, the Official Opposition PLP demonstrated that it recognized the importance of the occasion by sending two senior members of the party—Deputy Leader Philip “Brave” Davis and Foreign Affairs Shadow Minister Fred Mitchell—to Guyana for the consecration of Archbishop Cornell Moss as Bishop of Guyana.
When I was editor of The Freeport News I wrote an editorial criticizing the government for not officially sending a representative to Guyana, and I still think the fact that it didn’t is outrageously appalling.